Media stories and their effects on our lives

I got into an interesting discussion with a friend on facebook.  I wrote up a huge response and then I clicked out of the window by accident and it was all deleted.  Depressing but I think I had enough there that warranted a blog post.  Here it is.

So, if you've read anything I've posted, you can probably gather I'm a fan of things like the environment, the food movement, and just generally caring about the future of this big green place we're renting for the moment.  At least it seems like we're renting it.  We're treating it with the same transient attitude we do rental apartments at least.  Only caring enough to ensure our immediate well-being and comfort.  The minute the slow growth mold reaches our feet we react suddenly.  "Where did that come from?!"

Where did that come from.

I think it will be a good measure to adopt this term into our regular vocab as our culture races on like it's business as usual.  Don't worry, this isn't a post where you'll have to take the scared ostrich approach to facts.  Truth is I'm actually not very good at facts.  I prefer to make connections between larger circles of movement from my own observations of the world around me.  So the real topic of this post is....

Media.  Big media.  Small media.  Media studies.  Media media media.

I believe that media is largely responsible for shaping the ways that people navigate their ways in the world. The media can influence thought, which can influence action.  It's carried with us wherever we go, in electronic and mental form.  It's easy to point fingers at the media, because the troubles facing our world today seem to be mixed in with the media as well as the economic and political models that currently exist.

I sometimes feel that media was largely responsible for getting us into the mess we're in, thanks to the abuse of advertising, or on a large scale perspective - the desire for accumulation and dominance of competitors. Regardless, I think it also has the potential to get us out of this mess in a large way.

I've been noticing the semantics of the media gradually changing.  For example, when I was growing up, I never would hear things like Yoga or Meditation in mainstream TV shows.  Regardless of any adjacent marketing campaigns that are tied to the increase of these terms, I can't help but feel that, overall, this is a good thing.  If it gets the mainstream populace to begin wondering about meditation, I'm for it.

For a simple example, if Hollywood stars and/or big media providers invested even a small amount of their income into solving A, B, or C, big changes could occur overnight.  There is little doubt to this any more. One of my favourite examples of this was Neil Young's recent finger to the tar sands.  A lot of people are aware of Neil Young, and this gives him an immense amount of power for change.

This said, these changes are still occurring too slowly. I really feel that we've become far too complacent overall. We need more radicals to really begin making larger motions (he says, as he safely types from his computer about how to make change). I fully acknowledge myself in this category of complacency, and it's something that, having recognized, I hope to change.  We're far too okay with spending our money / effort on things we really don't need.  Just one more Amazon order.  Just one more iPhone.  Then I'll stop.  In case you haven't caught this trend yet, it's not ending.  If we truly hope to heal ourselves we may have to cut the cord with certain life comforts.

These life comforts in many other cultural setting may be considered luxuries or riches. It's so easy to forget that, especially when the companies who really shape our media ensure that these stories are few and far between. This really demonstrates the true imbalance and disparity that needs to be cured once and for all. We need to change the dominating stories to reflect the world we want to grow into.  This requires us to step in a potentially unfamiliar area, which we're incredibly uncomfortable with!  What will this world look like? Well that really depends on how soon we decide to react.  There are many ways each of us can make big changes with little effort.  It's more an issue of surrounding yourself with the right people.

I've been involved with some great local organizations for over a year now, and even with all of the great contributors and volunteers we are able to move mere rocks while some of the players in big media could move mountains. How do we inspire this to occur?  How do you make those who control a large amount of existing systems care about the welfare of us all beyond our immediate footsteps?  I'm not sure, but you should probably get used to growing your own food anyway.

To update those uninitiated into the current ecological issues, we're about to hit some turbulence.

I read somewhere recently that even the idea of sustainability is somewhat being thrown out the window. It's now purely about resilience or, basically, bracing for impact. Humanity has an awfully bad habit of reacting to problems like this only when we run right into them.  I believe this is what the book, the Sixth Extinction, is about. Pretty revealing title.

There will be significant changes to our world in our lifetime. Again, we don't quite know what this will look like but it's something to consider when you're currently trying to figure out your life.

What does this mean for you?  I'll ask you to consider these things:

  • What does a world with less technology look like?  What would you spend your time doing?
  • Do you really need your own car?  Snowblower? Lawnmower?
  • How much of the stuff you have really contributes to your overall wellness?
  • What are some of the times that bring you real joy and happiness?
  • What could you most likely do without (even if a mild inconvenience)
I think that if more were conscious of some of these things we'd be able to vastly change our world that the media is too slow to respond to.  Also, if you want to consider restructuring some of your life, begin by restructuring your finances - read this book.


  1. Wow, Garth - pretty deep thought here - I like it!

  2. Interesting stuff. I think that it's important to acknowledge that the media isn't something that you think shapes people and their opinions, it just does. Media encompasses all, and is something that has a symbiotic relationship with populations and their beliefs and the things that shape them. For example, I like Democracy Now! because I know that there are definitely no billionaires pushing a product/war/right wing agenda, and it's for those same reasons I dislike almost all corporate Malaysian Flight coverage. Never the less, I have to consume something in order to form an opinion based on the information presented without actually being there, like everyone else.

    I may have found a good niche for my news, but for all I know my world view could be toppled one day by Glenn Beck and some earth shattering truths that unexpectedly come from the right wing. You use the word "bypass" but really it's a system of "roads" which we all have no choice but to "travel" in order to get to our "destinations" . I know you don't mean it, but the language you use seems to indicate that you are exempt from the same "traveling" we're all obligated to partake in order to get as close as we can to truth. That said, I don't think you're holier than thou.

    In regards to humanity and the problems we face as a species, I'm going to say something that is extremely simplified but gives me a little perspective. Not too long ago common people were mostly illiterate. We had two superpowers pointing a giant arsenal at each other and we didn't destroy the world over. Climate change was detected in the 70's and even though in the context of our lives it seems like forever we have come a long way in terms of consensus and science available to combat it. I'm not saying that it's nothing to worry about, but I don't think that we're all gluttonous consumers. In the context of it all, there are more people involved now than there ever was.

    That said I'm just a guy slumped over a chair that's up really late at night when I should be sleeping.

  3. Thanks for your response Bijan! It was a great read. I absolutely agree with you on my usage of the term bypass. I'm definitely going to change that. Not at all what I meant - perhaps I myself have been far too influenced by many of the other 'shock' article titles that are posted these days.

    I hear you that we are absolutely better off at least in respects to our general awareness and ability to develop our own decisions today. I'm generally an optimist on these issues, but we all fluctuate, especially when being influenced by various news. I guess I'm stuck on the idea that, despite this increased awareness and seemingly increased intelligence, we seem to have lost an originally inherent intelligence of the issues nearest to us. As our awareness of the distant issues (news, world politics, economy, varied cultures) has increased, we've become fairly clumsy with being aware of things like general nutrition, health, nature, stewardship of land, or even the ways we interact with others. I suppose the hope here is that knowing more about the world as a whole will eventually allow us to form some kind far off peaceful unity - but I'm not sure sure.

    I think it's especially interesting today because, as you mentioned with the various roads, we can choose our own paths. So we can literally 'sculpt' our various news sources to something that can comfort us, reassure us, shock us, scare us, just based on the sources we choose to listen to on an individual level. This is fascinating and it's no wonder that there is inherent conflict on almost every single issue. Thankfully, we have our natural world to at least be consistent with warning us of some of the impending collapses. This is one idea that I really can't imagine being false, so I get fairly frustrated when I still see our society continuing on at the same pace despite the exponential increase of natural problems.

    This said, as strongly as my words may be at times I'm absolutely not at all set in my ways. I agree with you that one article, or one new finding from Glenn Beck as you said, could topple my argument - I welcome this whenever it may, and likely will, happen, whether small or large. This is merely to present my beliefs in a way that will invite opposition so that I can be proven wrong, and thus find the underlying truths (as transient as they may be) in various issues faster than if I'd post things that were more passive and non-confrontative.

    I also wrote that when I was fairly tired and thus, probably a little sleep-frustrated. I appreciate your input and I'll be adjusting my opinions, especially on my occasional barbed-terminology!